Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Recap: Dr Horrible Sing-Along and Joss Whedon Q&A benefit for 826NYC

Joss Whedon and Buffyfest, sadly minus Michelle

Joss Whedon hosted a Dr Horrible screening last night in New York City and Bitsy and I were there! This was all to benefit 826NYC. Joss showed up and worked the entire line outside, signing things and taking pictures. Once inside...well just check out the video below, which was Joss's intro of the evening:

The crowd was great, Dr. Horrible looked better than ever on the big screen and the singing was loud and rambunctious. Joss was just a few seats down from us and was also singing along. Ira Glass led the Q&A portion of the eveing right after the screening. What transpired was a very interesting interview of Whedon, indeed. I'll try and recap as best I can. (Please know that this was all shorthand and not entirely complete):

Dr horrible makes me sad. - Joss Whedon

Ira Glass: Are you knocking off Sondheim?
Joss Whedon: I knocked off Penny!

Joss spoke about the song "Slipping" originally being called "Rebuttal" and that he definitely takes cues, particularly from Sondheim. See the entire beginning portion here (Thanks, Lyssa!). He then spoke a bit about being inspired by films.

JW: When I was doing "Amends"...the thing that unlocked it for me was watching The Last Temptation of Christ. Just the emotional pain of what this guy had to do because it's right.

IG: What kind of stupid shit can you get away with in a Musical?
JW: "Deltoids of Compassion" might be the greatest thing I ever wrote. Musicals bring the broadest jokes, the loudest cry. Cursing in musicals is 10 times funnier.

They mentioned that Joss directed the Emmy bit that aired last night.

IG: Where did Moist come from? Is there anything else to say about a character like Moist? JW: You're underestimating the power of "damp". He comes from the mind of Ben Edlund.....So did Bad Horse which he pitched for Angel. Ironically, that horse was in episodes of both Angel and Dollhouse. We've used this horse 3 times!

In reference to Neil Patrick Harris's opening monologue in Dr. Horrible:

IG: Is he ad-libbing at all?
JW: (jokes) Never! (then coyly) I'm not as controlling as I uuuuused to be. I'm a "control enthusiast."

IG: (in response) It's an amazing monologue to watch. Is it take 50?
JW: I think it's take 4. Or maybe 6. It's a long monologue. I thought "It's a lot to ask of an audience"...but it's an internet musical! It's free!

In the clip below, Joss talks more about the opening monologue and then about the financial aspect of Dr. Horrible:

Joss would give us absolutely nothing about the Dr. Horrible sequel except that "Penny's still dead". See for yourself:

When Dollhouse came up, Ira Glass' first question was "Did Dollhouse feel like a Joss show?" (People in the audience proceeded to scream "No!")

JW: It did at first. Even the first pitch seemed territory uncharted, but at the same time natural. These stories are "me" stories.

Joss spoke about Eliza's acting saying "Eliza is capable playing someone who is actually classy." instead of just tough. He mentioned a bunch of roles she's played and Bitsy then shouted "Bring it on!"

JW: the "Bring it on" girl is both tough and conservative.

JW: [Dollhouse] became just a scoach too whore-y. Never had a better meeting, everything was great, then they [FOX] said "so they're kinda like prostitutes and that's not ok" Word came down that it wasn't ok. I wanted to make a show thats about feeling bad about feeling good or good about feeling bad. Fantasy is just that, fantasy. FOX wanted to back away from these implications. Every episode is ridiculously hard because the central core has been ripped out just enough, that we're constantly dancing around our own premise.

JW: I only do ensemble shows ...you don't hire Olivia Williams for exposition.

IG: You're about 6 episodes in the season now?
JW: About halfway through yeah.....and we've written 2 of then too! (laughs)

Regarding the episode "Epitaph One":

JW: We didn't want a Firefly where it's "interuptus" but we also didn't want to close the book. Plus, we also had FOX which needed another episode (and me thinking it eventually would air). We couldn't do a clip show, showing the pilot would be stupid. We could do this fast. It would be a bottle show. A bottle show means "let's shoot on the set we have, we've run out of money."

[Apparently another example of "Bottle Show" was the Angel episode "Spin the Bottle" - all shot on the Hyperion set.]

Ira Glass seemed baffled by the fact that a Whedon show always has strong women but with an older "dude" that she needs. See below for that conversation:

They spoke a bit about Joss's father:

JW: Since the day I started writing he's been nothing but supportive.
IG: What does he say about the fatherless characters on your shows?
JW: It doesn't come up....were WASPS! (laughs) My relationship with my older brothers and father was tough, but over dinner we spoke about it one day and that was it. "This always bothered me, "well this always bothered me", "Good talk." But the damage was done (audience laughs) and I get to give it to all of you.

Glass had a question about the art in the Buffy comics. Apparently his wife noticed that when the comics started, the boobs on the women matched those of the original actresses. But now, "the boobs are getting bigger".

JW: I've always been pretty specific about the breasts in my comics. I probably shouldn't be saying this. (laughs) But there's a certain form they're used to drawing and they revert back and I don't notice.........so is Willow like stacked? (audience laughs)

They got into Joss having a hard time with being a leader:

JW: My version of being nice is avoiding conflict, not telling the cast what they do wrong and then firing them. (audience laughs) I write about being a leader...making a decision that makes you less of a person. I find it fascinating in Mal, the later seasons of Buffy, in Adele. For me, it's really hard.

He had a hard time with a leadership role he had in college, then he found he could lead people with kindness.

IG: What happened that you realized you weren't having a firm enough pimp hand?
JW: Were not talking about Dollhouse. (audience laughs)
IG: So were you trying to be their friends?
JW: Yeah, it was cool and then it got messy. It always gets messy.

IG: What would've happened if Firefly had continued? (someone screams, "IT WOULD'VE BEEN AWESOME!)
JW: It's hard to talk about. Recently, I was going over a scene with Mal in a bar at the end of an episode and I actually got a little teary...then I wake up from that daze and I realize that's never gonna happen.

Glass tries to press what this "lost" Firefly scene was about.

JW: Intimate things and I have a few if them... I'm not going to share. Had the show continued, I'll tell you one thing, Wash would've been alive! (Applause)

IG: Is TV a good place right now to make interesting work?
JW: Getting harder for networks and the way people are entertained is changing. I didn't think I was gone from TV for that long but so much has changed. What they refer to as a "6 act structure," or what we refer to in the writers room as an unholy mess, it creates false act breaks. Someone says "pass the salt" cut to commercial. Really? The salt? Can't you just not pass it? (audience laughs)

JW: They tried with Dollhouse and Fringe shorter commercials...which meant 10 more minutes of show, which was prolly the most crippling decision they could've made. But they're out there trying different stuff. The most interesting venues right now are AMC, HBO. For me there was this little golden era of television. Little places that no longer exist called the WB and UPN...indie TV. Janet Jackson's nipple caused the FCC problems and the whole culture seemed to retract. "No side boob." Every week we get this note. "no side boob" Ira responds, "Really?"

IG: A question that might be embarrassing...Do you go back and watch old episodes of your own shows?
JW: It is embarrassing. After my wife would go to sleep I'd put Buffy in (slyly motions the dvd player closing).
IG: Which ones would you watch?
JW: The ooooones directed by meeee. (audience laughs) It's funny, cause it's true. (more laughs) The reactions would surpise me, though. It watch "Restless" and think "that's good", I'd watch "Hush" and eh...it's not all that.

Ira's final question was a pretty awesome one, regarding half a dozen Reavers vs. half a dozen Vamps. Check that exchange out below:

Here are some more photos of the evening:


Henshaw Hasselpuffs said...

That is awesome. I didn't find out about this til it was sold out.

Life Sucks and So Do You said...

Love the scarf, Tara. It looks so nice on you. And hey, with Bitsy by your side you can't go wrong. I do think the Whedon hero worship is totally disgusting, neanderthal-like and beneath what any civilized human being should partake in, but I'm glad you and Bitsy had a nice time.

ROTNblog said...

Great stuff, guys. I was there last night but apparently missed his meet-and-greet at the line. Curses!

But like you said, it was a wonderful event. Joss' genuine honesty and good humor are always so refreshing.

Anonymous said...

It was advertised as sold out, but I walked up to the window and bought a ticket at 7. ALWAYS go, even if it says sold out. This was the coolest event I've ever been to in my life.

Marimba Ani said...

Awesome job with the recap. I loved the little videos, too. Almost (that's a lie) as good as being there.

Anonymous said...

Nice recap for a great evening - good to know who the "Bring It On" yeller was.

Steph said...

Great recap, I'm going to watch the videos when I get home from work. :D Your pictures are fabulous!

Anonymous said...

Tight-lipped on the sequel and no mention AT ALL of this fall's prequel? Joss knows how to build a frenzy, I'll give him that.

.:m a i a:. said...

thanks for sharing!!
great recap

Littlealbatross said...

Great recap :)
I was there last night and had such a shiny time.
But I am wondering where the "Special Guests" were and why the advertisement for the event said the audience would be able to ask questions ,which we didn't get to do.
Any insight ?

Michael (mbatz) said...

Sob...Bummed I missed it..but awesome recap! "Bring it On" ha.

Dalton the Hardcore Physicist said...

Can someone, anyone, tell me what's so great about Firefly? Please. I mean, come on. The show was so bad it couldn't even make it to the end of the season. Neither could I. I only could get through 6-7 episodes. Bored me to tears. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I think there is a lot of irrational Whedon love going around. In my opinion, Whedonphiles are so fanatical about Whedon's shows because they are on board with Whedon's weltanschauung and attempt to transplant and synthesize that affinity with a love of his shows, however mediocre and substandard they may be. Tell me I'm wrong. I dare you. But if you do, be willing to tell me what's so wonderful about Firefly. Or Dollhouse, for that matter. I swear to Bog I just don't get it. I really don't. Honestly, I think my theory is right on. For the record, the only Whedon show I really love is Buffy. Buffy is truly great. I think all his other stuff is mediocre, at best.

Caitlin said...

Dalton: I'll take that dare. You're wrong.

Major point: don't generalize. Are some Whedon fans just on the bandwagon? Sure. Are all of us over enthusiastic drones, just because you don't enjoy any Whedon shows save Buffy? Of course not. What makes great TV for me is not the same as what makes great TV for you.

Firefly was actually the first show of Whedon's that I watched, and I got into it way after the program was cancelled. The core cast of Firefly grabbed my attention from day one - the depth that each character has made them seem real, and therefore relatable. And because I could relate to them, I cared about what they were going through. To me, that's the core of great TV; I have to care.

The technical quality of the show speaks for itself - the design and effects are wonderful. The acting is remarkable, the writing is witty, and the storylines are exciting. I like that there is a continuous theme (survival of the outcasts), a broad arching storyline (about River and the Alliance), and episode-by-episode stories that generally get wrapped up by the end of the hour.

So what is your criticism of the show, other than that it was "so bad" and "bored you to tears"?

Sorry for the comment hijacking, Tara. Thanks for this recap, it was a lot of fun to look at. :)

Michael said...

You don't like Angel Dalton?!?! Fantastic show! It's Batman! What I don't understand is all the Whedon hate. It seems more irrationial to go on about how you hate a show..just don't watch/pay attention to it. I'll be the first to call Joss out on a horrible show or comic writing for that matter. I just haven't seen it yet. His X-Men run was insanely good. Totally rejuvinated the series...ask anyone in the know. X-men was horrible forever. Still wish they would've just let him script the Wonder Woman movie, cause that would've rocked! Dollhouse started out slow for me, but I was hooked by the end of the season. Firefly, like you, I didn't give much of a shot when it originally aired...cowboys in space??? please! But again, it grew on me. It's not just Whedon. It's the talented writers he surrounds himself with also. Jane Espenson is fantastic...love her writing on BSG, and Warehouse 13 is a lot of fun. What do you love about Buffy, that is not apparent in all his shows? They all have great character relationships, clever dialogue and season stretching arcs/mythologies. I just don't get why people want to trash on Whedon fans like we're all kool-aid sipping zombies. I don't know the man or owe him allegiance. Just love his contributions to pop culture. It smacks of jealousy or something. It's very strange. I don't like Kevin Smith all that much, but I don't go around ragging about him...I just move on. Isn't the fact alone that he did Buffy, one of the greatest shows in TV history enough to give the man some credit and not try to tear him down. He gets a pass for me (just as Chris Carter does)- not that he needs one. All his shows have been good so far:) Not trying to argue Dalton:) But yeah, like Caitlin said, what r your criticisms of Firefly? And did you watch Serenity? I'm sorry..trying not to be a tool around here. Enough's enough with the Joss hating- I get it all over the place from cynics everywhere.
signed - drinking the kool-aid:)

Dalton the Hardcore Physicist said...

Hi Caitlin,
Thank you for responding. And you're right about generalizing. Generalizations are almost always nefarious. There are instances when a generalization is appropriate, but not in relation to Whedonphiles. Sorry if I offended any Whedon lovers out there.

I suppose my criticism of the show is the direct antithesis of your argument in support of the program. I despised most of the characters, in particular Shepherd, Simon, River, and Jayne. Hoban and Zoe didn't do much for me, either. Shepherd was the worst. I did like the Captain, but my favorite character was Inara. I really liked the unique spin they put on the "Companion" role. Very cool, particularly considering our contemporary views on the subject. I loved the pro-freedom aspect of this programming idea. In combination with the technical aspects of the show, these two things are about all I liked.
Honestly, I didn't see a lot of depth in the characters and the acting, in my opinion, wasn't that great.

I couldn't relate to any of the characters, and you're right. Caring is critical. I empathized with their hardship, but harship is nothing new or novel and hey, it doesn't have to be. I still didn't care about any of them. I also didn't care for the storyline and the writing was anything but interesting. Certainly not witty. Like I said, the eps I watched bored me to tears. I'm sorry. The survival of the crew being a continuous theme was a ripoff of better shows, including Star Trek Voyager, a show I really liked which lasted 7 seasons.

That's where I stand. I should finish the series, but watching another Firefly episode for me, at the time, would have been an exercise in mental torture. I disliked it that much. But I'm now more open to the idea considering your solid defense of the series.

I really appreciate your response. Thanks a lot!

Dalton the Hardcore Physicist said...

Hi Michael,
Thank you for your response. I haven't really got into the Whedon comic book universe, but I want to (mainly because I want to see what happens to Buff and the Scoobs). Plus, I promised my brother I'd buy the Angel and Buffy comics, which I have yet to do. I will, though. I will.

As for Angel, that's a tough one. I really want to like Angel, and I like some of the characters on the series (Lorne, in particular-RIP AH), but I think Angel is like an acquired taste. I like Angel more and more, but it'll never be on the level as Buffy. I hated Angel on Buffy. He was the lowest commom denominator of the first three seasons. Don't get me wrong, I think the idea is very good. There's something about David Boreanaz I just don't like in that role. I have to admit I liked the series more as it progressed. The latter three seasons were more powerful than the first two, that's for sure. I fell in love with Lorne when I really hated Angel during the first couple of seasons. He was THE breath of fresh air in the series during this time, and my love for him just grew. By the way, I'm looking for a Lorne/Caritas t-shirt. If anyone knows of one, please let me know. I think Buffyfest should create one.

Chris Carter. Now you've really touched on a sore spot for me. Chris Carter, in my opinion, destroyed The X-Files via the last two seasons and the catastrophe that was the last movie. It is soooooooo sad and I'm still very bitter about his programming decisions concerning that show. The X-Files, like Buffy, could have lived on forever as one of the greats, but thanks to his lack of vision, that's not possible. I bet there's a spike in my bp right now....

Sorry if I seem to be hating on Whedon. I don't mean to be. I'm just hating on the irrational exuberance I see surrounding some of this stuff. Hey, who knows, perhaps I'm the one off-kilter....

Thanks a lot for your post, Michael!

Tara said...

Re: Littlealbatross - yeah, I'm not sure what was up with that? We were sure Nathan Fillion would be there but no go. As far as a Q&A...it was more like an interview with audience participation only in the form of yelling things out! Was still a lovely evening, though. Definitely one of the cooler things we've done since starting this blog.

Re: Dalton - I think Firefly had great potential. Maybe you'd change your mind about the series if it had been allowed more than the handful of episodes that aired. It isn't my favorite Whedon project either, although I absolutely adore Serenity. It's definitely one of my top 5 movies of all time. Many a Browncoat will disagree, though! I agree with the qualities that Caitlin has listed.

Now Dollhouse is a whole other conversation. Time will tell on that one.

As for the "Cult of Whedon" I can't deny I've seen that thinking, to a certain extent. But I'm certain I can speak for everyone that runs this blog (and I'm sure many who read it) when I say it's the opposite for us. We respect Joss Whedon because of his incredible work, not the other way around. We love - and sometimes hate - the shows (starting with Buffy, hence the Buffyfest name) and just want to talk about them. Of course there is a little celebrity news aspect of this site with regards to the 'verse actors...and if one doesn't like that part of civilization, it might be best to steer clear. But the goal wasn't to obsess over or worship The Creator.

OMG, that's totally his new nick-name.

Dalton the Hardcore Physicist said...

Well said, dudette. I'll definitely check out Serenity, although I should finish Firefly first.
I have to admit the Cult of Celebrity drives me bonkers. Always has, always will. I try not to get my dandruff up over it, though. Like you said, steering clear/picking and choosing is a must.

The Creator. You're so bad....

Roxie said...

sounds like it was some awesome on a stick!

heroine_tv said...

What a great post Buffyfest crew! And kudos for being linked all over the web today! (You may be above such concerns ;) but I thought it was very cool.)

As for the Firefly question, my response to you, Dalton, is that the episodes speak for themselves. If you watched the show, and it did nothing for you, then the show's just not for you. No use worrying about it. For myself, watching Firefly was a thoroughly entertaining experience, and I love to watch the episodes over and over again. It makes me happy, sad, scared, moved, and inspired. I'm sorry it didn't do that for you, but to each his own.

Dalton the Hardcore Physicist said...

Indeedee. To each his/her own. Happy you love it so much....

Marsia said...

Thanks for covering this event. I love getting peeks into how The Man's brain works.
Marsia in Los Angeles

Jade said...

I bookmarked this to come back and donate when I could but the donation links are gone and the videos are set to private now; so is there still a way I can watch these?

Bitsy said...

I'll have the videos fixed shortly. In the meantime you can go to http://826nyc.org to donate. Just scroll down a little and you'l see the donation area for this specific interview.

Tara said...

Sorry sorry! The vids are back and no longer set to private. What happened was the 826nyc folks started their drive after we posted the vids. So we temporarily took down our recap and asked that everyone head on over to www.826nyc.org to donate. You can still download the full audio interview there. Our recap is now back in effect.